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Merits, Demerits, features | Forms of Indian Government - Types of Indian Constitution | 9th Social Science : Civics: Forms of Government

Chapter: 9th Social Science : Civics: Forms of Government

Types of Indian Constitution

1a. Unitary Form of Government 1b. Federal form of government 2. Parliamentary form of government 3. The presidential form of government



Unitary Form of Government

A unitary system of government or unitary state, is a sovereign state governed as a single entity. The central government is supreme and the administrative divisions exercise only powers that the central government has delegated to them.

England, France, Japan and SriLanka are examples of Unitary Form of governments.

In a Unitary form of government, all the authority and power is vested in single centre, whereas in a federal form of government authority and power is distributed between centre and the constituent units. Even in a Unitary form of Government, there might be a lot of decentralisation of authority, but we cannot claim it as a federal system.

Merits of unitary form of government

                               Suitable for small countries.

                               There is no conflict of authority and responsibility.

                               A unitary government will make prompt decisions and take speedy action.

                         A unitary government is less expensive.

                               Amendments to the constitution are easy.

                               There is unity, uniformity of law, policy and administration.

De-merits of unitary form of government

                               It is not suitable for big countries.

                               The central government will have to tackle so many complex problems that lead to administrative delay

                               The central government will not concentrate on local problems, local interest and initiative.

                               The concentration of powers may pave way for the despotism of the central government.

Unitary features of the indian constitution

•      Strong Centre

•      Central Government’s control over state territory

•      Single Constitution

•      Flexibility of the Constitution

•      Unequal representation of states

•      Emergency Provisions

•      Single Citizenship

•      Single Integrated Judiciary

•      All India Services

•      Appointment of Governor by the central government


Federal form of government

The classification of governments into unitary and federal is based on the nature of relations between the national and the regional governments.

A federal government is one in which powers are divided between the national government and the regional governments by the Constitution itself and both operate in their respective jurisdictions independently. U.S.A, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Russia, Brazil, Argentina have federal form of governments. In a federal model, the national government is known as the Federal government or the Central government or the Union government and the regional government is known as the state government or the provincial government.

Merits of federal form of government

                                Reconciliation of local autonomy with national unity

                                Division of power between centre and states leads to administrative efficiency

                                It gives rise to big states

                                Distribution   of   powers  check  the despotism of central government

                                More suitable for bigger countries

                                It is good for economic and cultural progress

De-merits of federal form of government

                                Federal government is weaker when compared to the unitary government.

                                Federal government is more expensive

                                Provincial tendencies are very common

                                Lack of uniformity in Administration

                                Threat to national unity

                                Distribution of powers between centre and states lead to conflicts

                                Double Citizenship

                                Rigid constitution cannot be mended easily for changing needs

                                The state governments sometimes place hindrances in the foreign policy    

Federal features of the Indian constitution

                                Dual Government

                                Written  Constitution

                                Division of Powers

                                Supremacy of the Constitution

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The laws enacted by the Centre and the states must confirm to its provisions.

                                Rigid Constitution

                                Independent Judiciary


Difference between Unitary form and Federal form of Government

Unitary Form of Government

·              Only one Level of Government or Sub units

·              Mostly Single Citizenship

·              Sub Units cannot operate independently

·              No Division of Power

·              Centralisation of Power

Federal Form of Government

·              Two Levels of Government

·              Dual Citizenship

·              Federal Units are answerable to Central Government

·              Division of Power

·              Decentralisation of Power


Parliamentary form of government

Modern democratic governments are classified into parliamentary and presidential on the basis of the nature of relations between the executive and the legislative organs of the government.

The parliamentary system of government is the one in which the executive is responsible to the legislature for its policies and acts.

The parliamentary government is also known as cabinet government or responsible government or Westminster model of government and is prevalent in Britain, Japan, Canada and India among others.

Features of parliamentary form of government

• Nominal and Real Executives

• Majority Party Rule

• Collective Responsibility

• Dual Membership

• Leadership of the Prime Minister

Merits of the parliamentary form of government

• Harmony between Legislature and Executive

• Responsible Government

• Prevents Dictatorship

• Wide Representation

Demerits of the parliamentary form of government

• Unstable Government

• No Continuity of Policies

• Dictatorship of the Cabinet

• Against Separation of Powers


The presidential form of government

The Presidential Form Of Government is also known as non-responsible or non- parliamentary or fixed executive system of government, basically built on the principle of separation of power and is prevalent in the USA, Brazil, Russia and Sri Lanka among others.

Features of presidential form of government

The American President is both the head of the State and the head of government. As the head of State, he occupies a ceremonial position. As the head of government, he leads the executive organ of the government.

The President is elected by an electoral college for a fixed tenure of four years. He cannot be removed by the Congress, except by impeachment for a grave unconstitutional act.

The President governs with the help of a cabinet or a smaller body called ‘Kitchen Cabinet’. It is only an advisory body and consists of non-elected departmental secretaries. They are selected and appointed by him, are responsible only to him and can be removed by him any time.

The President and his secretaries are not responsible to the Congress for their acts. They neither possess membership in the Congress, nor attend its sessions.

Historic Transition in Bhutan

Third King - Abolishment of slavery

Fourth King - Abdication of regal title

Fifth King - Democratic elections and establishment of local self-government

Transition from the hereditary monarchy to the Parliamentary Democracy. In 2006, the king abdicated the throne 34 years after ascending it. His son Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck became the fifth monarch and head of the state of the Himalayan kingdom. Now Bhutan is a Parliamentary Democracy and King Jigme a constitutional monarch.

The President cannot dissolve the House of Representatives—the lower house of the Congress. The doctrine of separation of powers is the basis of the American presidential system. The legislative, executive and judicial powers of the government are separated and vested in three independent organs of the government.

Merits of the presidential system of government


                               Effective Control by the President

                               Facilitate decision-making

                               State government

Demerits of the presidential system of government

                               Can degenerate into Dictatorship

                               Strain relationship between executive and legislature

                               Lack of Harmony between the Legislature and Executive

April Revolution and democracy in Nepal

On April, 2006 the leaders of Nepal vibrant pro-democracy civil society movement “Seven Party Alliance” (SPA) called for a million strong demonstration to be staged at 7 different points along the Ring road encircling the capital Kathmandu. The millions of citizens who made up the people's movement demanded an end to autocratic rule of monarchy and Restoration of total democracy in the Himalayan kingdom. An unprecedented development forced King Gyanendra to step down and paved the way for democracy

Difference between the Parliamentary Form of Government and Presidential Form of Government

Presidential Form of Government

·              President is directly elected by the People

·              President is Supreme

·              Separation of Powers

·              Independent branches

·              President - Head of the State

·              President - Head of the Government

·              Individual Leadership

·              President is not accountable to Congress

Parliamentary Form of Government

·              Prime Minister is from the majority party

·              Central Legislature is supreme

·              Absence of Separation Powers Centralisation

·              Independent branches with Overlapping functions

·              President - Head of the State

·              Prime Minister - Head of the Government

·              Collective leadership

·              Collective and Individual Responsibility

The relationship between the Centre and the State in India

India is a union of States where the power is shared between the centre and the states, as per the procedures mentioned in the Constitution of India. Though the powers are shared between the Central and State Governments, the final decision is by the Central government in all matters. The relationship between the centre and the states are

1.             Legislative relations (Articles 245-255)

2.             Administrative relations (Articles 256-263)

3.             Financial relations(Articles 268-293)

Both the Central and State governments have the power to make laws, but the matters differ. The centre can make laws applicable to the whole nation on certain matters called as the union list. The States have the powers to make laws in some matters only, applicable to their own state, called as the State list. The concurrent list includes the subjects on which both Central and State government have the power to make laws.

Union List: Union list has 100 subjects. These include Foreign affairs, Defence, Armed forces, Posts and Telegraphs, inter-state trade and commerce and so on.

State List: The state list consists of 61 subjects, which include Public order in the state, police, prisons, Local Governments, agriculture and so on.

Concurrent List: The Concurrent list has 52 subjects which include Criminal and Civil procedures, marriage and divorce, economic and special planning, newspapers, books and printing presses, population control and so on.



From Government to Governance

Good governance is an indeterminate term used in the international development literature to describe how public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources. Governance is 'the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented'.

'Government' and 'governance' are synonyms, both denoting the exercise of authority in an organization, institution or state.

Characteristics of good governance

•      Participation

•      Rule Of Law

•      Transparency

•      Responsiveness

•      Consensus Orientation

•      Equity

•      Effectiveness And Efficiency

•      Accountability

Gross National Happiness (GNH):

Gross National Happiness is a developing philosophy as well as an 'index' which is used to measure the collective happiness in any specific nation.The concept was first mentioned in the constitution of Bhutan, which was enacted on 18 July 2008.

The term 'Gross National Happiness' was coined by the fourth king of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in the 1970s. The GNH’s central tenets are: “Sustainable and equitable

socio-economic development; environmental conservation; preservation and promotion of culture; and good governance”.

GNH is distinguishable by valuing collective happiness as the goal of governance and by emphasising harmony with nature and traditional values.


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